When you’re expecting a baby there can be a slew […]
When you’re expecting a baby there can be a slew of questions running through your mind, the most important being “how can I keep this baby healthy?” For most, staying healthy during pregnancy involves multiple prenatal checkups, a healthy diet, and plenty of rest. However, for a small amount of expectant mamas, doing these things might not be enough. November is National Diabetes Month and we want to make sure that you have the low down on GD: Gestational Diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes occurs in roughly 18% of pregnancies and causes your blood sugar to rise. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes GD but they theorize that it could be due to the hormones from your growing tot. Here’s how it works: After you consume food, your body begins the digestion process by breaking down foods into glucose that will enter your bloodstream. Then, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone designed to help move glucose from your bloodstream to your cells where it is used as energy. During pregnancy, the interaction between all of your pregnancy hormones impairs your insulin production, causing your levels of blood sugar to rise. The result? Gestational diabetes.
So how does this affect baby? Risks associated with GD include high birth weight, preterm birth, respiratory distress, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), jaundice, and risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. There are also risks for mom including high blood pressure and risk of developing diabetes after birth.
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of complications because if managed correctly, gestational diabetes will most likely go away after birth. Here are a few tips to make sure you can manage GD and rest easy!
Diet Change: Your diet plays a huge role in your pregnancy, and if you’re at risk for GD (family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, overweight) then you should take extra precautions to ensure you and baby stay healthy. Cut out sugars and stick with fruits, veggies and complex carbohydrates such as cereal and bread. This will reduce the amount of sugar your body digests, lowering the risk of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Exercise: Some weight gain during pregnancy is perfectly normal (and encouraged!) but you want to make sure it is not in excess. Exercising is imperative to controlling levels of blood sugar. Walking or swimming will do, however it’s really up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
Monitoring you and baby: It’s important to keep track of your blood sugar levels to ensure a safe pregnancy while dealing with gestational diabetes. This can be easily done at home by pricking your finger and placing the blood on a digital monitor that will read your blood sugar levels. It’s also important to make regular visits to your health care provider to make sure everything is running smoothly.
We know this is a lot to take in but if managed correctly, gestational diabetes doesn’t have to be a problem. Stay connected and reach out to people who are also affected by GD. It’ll all be worth it when you finally get to hold your little one!
Craving more? Check out “Ask the Experts: Gestational Diabetes” for more great information on managing GD from a registered dietitian.